What Is Melanoma?
The Skinny on the Deadliest Skin Cancer
A skin cancer that targets pigment-producing skin cells, called melanocytes.
It’s rare, accounting for 1 percent of skin cancer diagnoses.
It’s deadly, accounting for the majority of skin cancer-related deaths.
There are four main types, listed from most to least common:
1. Superficial spreading.
- Skin-based tumor.
- Presents as a mole that has:
Color that’s uneven
Diameter greater than six millimeters
- Red or flesh-colored lesions.
3. Lentigo maligna
- Presents as age spots.
- Typically arises in elderly patients due to sun exposure.
4. Acral lentiginous
- Affects areas not exposed to the sun, like the palms of the hand or soles of the feet.
- Often not identified early.
Treatment options have drastically improved in the last two decades. Northwestern Medicine offers hope through leading-edge treatments.
Treatment depends on the stage of the melanoma and the patient. It could involve surgically removing affected areas or lymph nodes, or immunotherapy.
- Melanoma is more common in Caucasians.
- Your risk is higher if you have a family history of melanoma.
- Excess exposure to UV rays increases your risk of melanoma.
- Be safe when exposed to UV rays.
- See a dermatologist annually.
- See a physician immediately if you notice changes in your skin or moles.